I made it safely to Paris, arriving this morning right around sunrise. Breezed through Charles de Gaulle, except for when I nearly left without my giant pack (don’t know what I was thinking…), and passed a peaceful and pleasantly cold train ride into the city and then toward the hostel. My bags are stored, my room won’t be ready until three p.m., and I look like shit, so I’m hiding in an internet cafe. There’s a grocery store across the street, a patisserie right next to that, and I am still wearing the airline blanket as a coat; I am set for the morning. I don’t have the guts to go clothing shopping in Paris without looking at least halfway decent, and quite honestly I have enough cultural stimuli to process so that I don’t feel bad about spending the morning quietly.
The most blantant culture shock occured before I even left Madagascar, when I watched Tommy, Mamy’s youngest kid, playing Grand Theft Auto. It felt so incredibly weird to see people beating each other up. I physically recoiled.
The drive to the airport in Tana was emotionally hard: Mamy, Laura, and Tony accompanied me, and we listened to music and I said silent goodbyes to all thing I’d come to associate with Madagascar cities: epiceries, frapperies, the gasy stoves in the street, the manic driving.
I tuned everything out in the airport and on the plane. I wrote, I slept, I ate the airplane food. I woke up before any hint of dawn and looked out the window as we passed over the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian and French coasts, the Alps. We landed just before sunrise.
I don’t think I have much else to write just yet. Everything seems sort of familiar, but also sort of foreign. I’m sort of exhausted, but not completely. The most trivial things strike me as hilarious–ads, window displays, behaviors–but I also feel consistantly like I’m about to vomit. It’s like I’ve been hit by a truck–utterly overwhelmed–but I don’t realize it yet, I just keep walking. It’s fantastic to be more or less anonymous (my airline blanket-coat has really turned some chic heads), but it also makes me feel really lost. I don’t know anyone here, I don’t recognize anyone here; I remember places but they are sterile, and anyway I am disoriented.
I think it will be better after a shower, a change of clothes, a long walk around the neighborhood, and a good night’s sleep. I hope so.